Thylias Moss Poems



The Unbuttered Subculture of Cindy Birdsong



Of course, there are obvious, frankly, reasons that the missing

Cindy Song (since 1980) brings Cindy Birdsong to mind, another


disappearance from my life, though even when she was active

óoverly generousó in my entertained days, she was replacement


for a missing Supreme after Diana and then Florence

departed, and after there was some flap really important


to those flapping but hardly worth resurrecting

seeing as she can still sing like an unspecified backup bird,


so no surprise that sheís just an afterthought

here because of Cindy Song who canít be here

though CB sometimes took the lead in pop tunes


nobody talks about much unless necessary in trivial games

where stakes can be lucrative, millionaires made


for knowing Cindy Birdsong was a Supreme, as little

as that, though at the very least she was also a daughter


and was probably at least once somebodyís lover

and perhaps the recipient of fan mail and hate mail


because she was a Supreme, after being a Bluebelle

at just about the time that there were still Queens for a Day,


though rarely African Queens on that game show, all the royalty

proud recipients of new Frigidaires, Amanas, Bissells, & Hoovers.



Cindyís certainly not the only afterthought; the linen bag

of tomatillos in a nearby poem is another, the shape appealing

in the challenged corner of my eye, contorted as if everythingís

taken in the gut; in one version it has a drawstring


that can be pulled noose-tight

then gets turned upside down

into ideal bag over


shrunken head about to be hung

though shrunken heads donít need redundant trip

to the gallows


especially since they usually travel better, to non-publicized

auctions as they make their way into collections. The Jivaro

of Ecuador made them best, tsantas, skull-less heads

rather like hairy dates and dried plums, a kind of rum cake

with lips stitched, a kind of sturdy yarn cup. The majority


of shrunken heads Iíve seen have shar-pei faces

or something thatís found in the dark


center when a radiation-altered sunflower head opens,


though this majority needs to be qualified,

as Iíve seen only a half dozen shrunken heads


outside of movies

and most of those were monkey heads (mostly in Toronto)

though they werenít saying only monkey, resemblances

& so forth, though covering up and burial arenít necessarily

more respectable than trophies


unless the corpse prove incorruptible and becomes patron

saint of compact embalming ónot that, though it could be,

the goodness of John the Baptist is shrinkable. Mostly


thinking must be revised: like many, I once thought everything

on television was in television, shrunken to fit into the box


in which case Cindy Birdsong would have been the most

remarkable of the shrunken heads, singing up a storm


the way she did the last time I saw her

& loved her in color that could be changed,

at volumes that could be changed


but she could not be enlarged

without getting out of the box


of static and cathode rays, streaming

electrons, without giving up


hordes of atomic

and subatomic groupies.





Writing regularly with a limited fork these days, Thylias Moss has managed

to complete her tenth book, Tokyo Butter, a volume of poetry that will be

published in 2005 by Persea.She is the recipient of many literary awards

and honors --all before her dedication to the limited fork.Slave Moth, a

novel in verse, was published in 2004 and has been the basis of an

experimental short film and a dance production.She enjoys giving poetry

concerts with her son who plays his original jazz-based compositions while

she sings variations of the printed poems.She teaches at the University of





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